If I were to ask every email marketing professional his or her top headache-inducing challenge, I’m willing to bet it would have something to do with email deliverability.
In 2014, Marketing Land reported 11% of permission-based email marketing campaigns were blocked and 6% ended up in people’s spam folders. With ISPs moving toward engagement-based filtering, in which specific subscriber signals determine how and where email should be delivered, accessing and analyzing email and subscriber data are essential to help senders improve deliverability.
But businesses continue to experience challenges with customer data. According to the 2015 Marketing Trends Survey, 30% of respondents cited “accessing and leveraging customer data from multiple channels and data sources” as the top challenge this year.
If you’re challenged by data and deliverability, it may be time to revisit an old friend: email list hygiene.
How to Leverage Your Data to Drive Engagement and Deliverability
Engagement-based filtering means deliverability is becoming much more personalized. In addition to sender scores, ISPs can evaluate subscriber behavior and engagement rates to determine inbox placement. By examining data around open rates, address books and replies, ISPs can evaluate subscriber interest in the content and decide to deliver only emails the subscriber has shown interest in.
This means as customer data grows in volume, so does the need for email list hygiene. First and foremost, a clean email list ensures you’re targeting contacts who actually want to receive your content. This leads to better engagement rates and email activity metrics, which signals to ISPs that your emails belong in recipients’ inboxes (not their spam folders).
Here are a few tactics to achieve list hygiene and improve your deliverability in 2015:
- Validate Your Contacts
Invalid or fraudulent email addresses can hinder deliverability by causing more emails to bounce or end up in spam folders. By taking a closer look at your email data with email validation services, you can identify the good eggs from the bad, and markedly improve the quality of your email list. Email validation can remove bad emails from your contact list, which can improve overall email performance with higher open rates and clickthroughs. Email validation services clean lists by identifying spam traps, incorrect email formats, misspellings and invalid email domains.
- Keep Your List Fresh and Up-to-Date
Regularly scrubbing your contact list to remove inactive subscribers can also improve deliverability. Inactive contacts who haven’t opened your emails in several months are essentially dead weight, dragging down email performance and clouding true insight around how active contacts are engaging with your content.
But before you ditch your quiet contacts, launch a reactivation campaign with a series of personalized emails promoting a new offer or message to reactivate these contacts into engaged subscribers. In some cases, these email addresses will be inactive. In other cases, your subscribers may simply be waiting for the right opportunity to re-engage.
- Get a Benchmark for Email Engagement
Once you have a list of valid, active contacts, run a series of tests to get a benchmark for your engagement metrics. With a solid understanding of which types of emails keep your contacts engaged and interacting with your content, you can continue to deliver the most effective email campaigns that can be delivered successfully.
You can easily test subject lines, frequency and time of day to optimize open rates. Take your testing even further by experimenting with list segmentation and email content to enhance click-throughs and conversions.
If you’re still facing the deliverability headache, you’re not alone. Increasing engagement is an ongoing effort that requires enticing offers and irresistible content based on the right data. By making regular list hygiene part of your routine, you can help improve deliverability fast. Plus, by knowing more about your customer, you can improve your engagement strategy and overall sender reputation.